House Of The Bluebird

How Not to Fulfill the Prophecy

Snider sliding his way to Vegas
Photo courtesy of Daylife via AP Photo

I like Alex Anthopoulos, I think he’s a great mind and has done great things to turn this club around from where it was going three years ago. Throughout his process his often stated prophecy has been to have ‘All-Stars at every position’ and that is a concept that I’m sure everyone can agree with.

He has made great efforts to fulfill said goal by acquiring players like Yunel Escobar, Brett Lawrire, and Colby Rasmus some of which have already become what was expected of them. However in recent execution of the same goal Anthopoulos and the Jays decided to demote Travis Snider to AAA, presumably in favour of Eric Thames in LF thereby hindering Anthopoulos’ great vision.

I agree with most of what Anthopoulos has done and I’m guessing that I will continue to do so with his moves in the future. However the one thing I’ll never understand is his constant misuse of Snider’s presumed abilities. Last year I didn’t agree with Snider’s demotion, but I gave Anthopoulos the benefit of a doubt when he said that Snider needed to ‘work on his swing’. This time around again, I disagree with the Jays’ handling of Travis, but at this point I really don’t understand what could possibly be gained from playing Thames rather than Snider.

As I previously mentioned Anthopoulos has said that he wants an All-Star at every position and I fail to see how Thames gives them that chance. In his 3 years in the Blue Jays minor leagues he was never put on any Blue Jays Top 10 list be it from Baseball America, Keith Law, or Kevin Goldstein, whereas Snider was atop each and every list a multitude of times.

In his 2011 Blue Jays Top 11 prospects Kevin Goldstein said, “As of now this spot (No. 12) could be low, because [Eric Thames] could be a solid everyday, corner outfielder.” This same sentiment seems to be similar to that of many other prospect mavens, but I fail to see how in that sentence or any other evaluation of Eric Thames it expresses that he could be an All-Star. He was never in Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects and he broke in to the majors at 24, older than the average All-Star would have. Furthermore even when Thames did break into the majors he didn’t show any indication that he had future All-Star potential.

As evidenced by his wRC+, Thames was 8% better than the average MLB hitter, but with terribly below average defense. This resulted in a good, but not All-Star potential-esque 0.9 fWAR. If you take that number and pro rate it over 600 plate appearances it would still only be 1.4 WAR. From there if you really believe Thames could be that much better, you could raise the production by 50% and get to a 2.1 WAR. That looks awfully small when you contrast that with the approximate 4.0+ WAR that it takes to be an All-Star.

To obtain that level of excellence Thames would have to perform 185% better than he did in 2011 over 600 plate appearances. Meaning that if you assume that his fielding and baserunning doesn’t change he would have to hit as good as Curtis Grandersondid last year to be an All-Star. Then even if you want to assume that Thames becomes average defensively in LF he would have to hit as good as Carlos Gonzalez did last year.

Snider, being the above average defender would still have to hit to a similar level, but the underlying point is that Snider has the potential to do so. Scouts have seen it in him, they saw it coming out of the draft, they saw it in his rookie season, and they even saw it last year.

Snider was the frickin’ 6th best prospect in baseball at one point, Thames has been criticized every step of the way. Thames performed well last year when called up at age 24, but Snider performed similarly in past years at a younger age.

Do you think that if given the chance the White Sox would send Adam Dunn down to AAA because he ‘didn’t perform well enough’ in 2011. No they would and will continue to play him, not only because he is owed a lot of money, but he has shown that he is a good ball player and just had a bad year. Travis may not be as distinguished a ball player as Dunn, but he did hit to around a league average level in his time in the majors with the potential for much more.

Thames may give the Jays a better chance at the playoffs in 2012, but Snider gives them a chance at that ‘All-Stars at every position dream’ as well as a shot at a World Series. I don’t know about you, but I’m a patient fan and if winning a World Series or even a playoff series for that matter means waiting, I will. I’d rather that than watch the Jays go all in on one playoff run.

Anthopoulos has always said that his goal is create dynasty not a playoff team, which is why I really don’t understand this move. Snider has shown what he can do in AAA, but hasn’t been given the chance to do the same in the majors (Thanks Cito!). AA wants a team that can win and win for a while and I fail to see how playing Thames over Snider in a rebuilding year gives the Jays the best chance to do that. Thames has shown us just about the peak of his production, Snider still has room to grow.

Of course Snider could still turn in to that bust player, but at the very least give him the chance to fail just as many have been given before him. It would be terrible to see Snider leave and be the player he could always be for another team, now is the time to make the right choice #FreeSnider.

How Not to Fulfill the Prophecy
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